Week in Review, 19-25Apr2021

Georgia COVID-19 Updates

Combined Data

The graph below shows how four of our big metrics for tracking the COVID-19 pandemic are tracking over time. Cases are represented by the blue line and correspond with the left y-axis. All other metrics correspond with the right y-axis. The reason I graph all of these things together is so that we can see the way these things trend together (or differently) over time.

I have good news this week. Cases, hospital admissions and deaths all decreased this week. That’s really terrific that cases and hospitalizations decreased because they were rising last week and tend to rise together when surges begin. As I said last week, it was too soon to know if a surge was beginning and thankfully it wasn’t a surge. ICU admissions rose by 17% compared to the week before.


Testing

The PCR test output trend over time can be seen in the graph below, represented by the blue line that corresponds with the left y-axis. The red line represents the test positivity rate over time, and corresponds with the right y-axis. The gray dashed line is the goal line for test positivity.

PCR testing output has been very steady for the past month and increased only by 2.7% this week. Test positivity was 5.5% this week.

For antigen testing, the total tests reported decreased about 16%, but the positivity rate decreased to 5.9%.

The DPH does not provide data regarding demographic details for cases identified by the antigen test. Keep that in mind as we go through the demographic data in the following sections. You’re only seeing part of the data. Meanwhile, antigen testing identified 30% of the cases this week.


Cases

The number of combined new cases (by date of report) is as follows:
- 24 hours: 739 by PCR + 177 by antigen = 916 (+0.08%)
- 7 days: 6628 by PCR + 2868 by antigen = 9496 (+0.9%)
- 4 weeks: 25,886 by PCR + 12,626 by antigen = 38,512 (+3.6%)

In the graph below, I show the Georgia cases by date of report for both PCR and antigen cases for each county type. Ignore the big bump around 11Oct - that was a data dump of antigen cases. You can check how your county is classified here. Case rate is highest for the Atlanta suburb counties and lowest for rural counties. The statewide case rate is 21% above the post-winter surge low point. The state is in what I’m calling a “noisy plateau.” By this I mean that case rate is bouncing up and down a bit but is more or less flat for the past month. Let’s continue to work on getting vaccinated.

The next graph shows us where this week’s confirmed COVID-19 cases came from in terms of age groups. Remember, this only describes PCR cases. We’re missing age information for the antigen cases (~30% of the week’s cases). In the most recent week, cases increased slightly for 1-4, 18-39, and 60-79.


Hospitalizations

The number of new hospital admissions (by date of report) is as follows:
- 24 hours: 20 new COVID-19 admissions, 6 admissions to the ICU (weekend reporting is typically light)
- 7 days: 622 new COVID-19 admissions, 118 ICU admissions
- 4 weeks: 2590 new COVID-19 admissions, 423 ICU admissions

Today Georgia crossed 10,000 COVID-19 ICU admissions since the start of the pandemic.

Hospital admissions rose for the following age groups this week: infants <1 year old and 10-39. Hospital admissions remain rather high for 40-59 year olds too.

Something to take notice of, but not reason for panic, is that ventilator usage is beginning to rise. I should note this is all adult ventilators in use, not just for COVID-19. But we have seen clearly high demand during the summer and winter surges. Usage is still very low, 30%, but it’s starting to creep upward.


Deaths

The number of new confirmed deaths (by date of report) is as follows. The percentage in parentheses indicates how the increase compares to Georgia’s cumulative total at the start of each window of time.
- 24 hours: 5 confirmed, -3 probable deaths (likely a data correction)
- 7 days: 173 (+1.0%), 44 probable deaths
- 4 weeks: 900 (+5.5%), 149 probable deaths

The graph below shows how the 7-day death rate per 100,000 residents has trended over time for each county type. Death rate seems to be continuing this bumping slope downward which is really good news. The state’s death rate is currently 10% below the pre-winter surge baseline! The 7-day death rate is highest for rural counties and lowest for the Atlanta counties of Fulton and DeKalb.

Next, let’s look at where the week’s newly reported deaths came from in terms of age groups. This week, deaths increased for those 30-39 and 50-69.

To summarize, the trends are in a good place this week overall. We want to continue to be cautious, of course, and work to get folks vaccinated as much as possible. I wouldn’t say we are out of the woods yet, because while things are stable they are still high.

Some personal news, I’m having sinus surgery this Friday to remove polyps that are impairing my ability to breathe through my nose, taste or smell. I’ve had this surgery twice before but this time will be more thorough and hopefully solve the problem. It’s a problem that has been growing more intense for the last couple years and the surgery is something I’ve been putting off because of the pandemic. I feel a lot more comfortable going into the hospital for this now that I’m fully vaccinated. I should be discharged the same day but I have someone to gather data for me if there are complications that warrant an overnight stay. It’s a weird thing to “hire” a babysitter for data. It’s possible that next Sunday’s post will be skipped or delayed depending on how recovery is going. Hopefully not. But I wanted to give a heads up in case the schedule goes awry this week.


References

https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report

https://covid-gagio.hub.arcgis.com/

https://healthdata.gov/dataset/covid-19-reported-patient-impact-and-hospital-capacity-state

https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#county-view


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My Ph.D. is in Medical Microbiology and Immunology. I've worked at places like Creighton University, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and Mercer University School of Medicine. All thoughts are my professional opinion and should not be considered medical advice.